Comedian John Oliver confronted Oscar-winning actor Dustin Hoffman on stage about a sexual harassment accusation, offering an audience in New York a rare glimpse of a powerful man facing live questions about such an allegation.
Hoffman is among a number of rich and famous men who have been accused of sexual misconduct since October when Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual assault.
Hoffman’s accuser, Anna Graham Hunter, said in a November 1 story in The Hollywood Reporter that Hoffman was flirtatious, grabbed her buttocks and talked about sex in front of her when she was a 17-year-old intern on a film set in 1985.
Reuters could not independently confirm Hunter’s accusations.
Hoffman, 80, apologised for putting her “in an uncomfortable situation,” telling the magazine that the woman’s account was “not reflective of who I am.” On stage Hoffman added that, “it didn’t happen the way she reported,” according to a Deadline Hollywood account of the exchange in New York.
A spokeswoman for Hoffman was not immediately available to comment on the exchange.
Oliver, host of a weekly show on HBO that analyses and satirises the news, discussed Hoffman’s statement while moderating a panel to mark the 20th anniversary of the film Wag the Dog, starring Hoffman.
Oliver said he felt obligated to raise the topic because “it’s hanging in the air,” according to video of the discussion on WashingtonPost.com.
Oliver raised Hoffman’s statement that it was “not reflective of who I am.” “It is reflective of who you were,” Oliver said. “It feels like a cop-out to say, ‘It wasn’t me.’ Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?” Hoffman later asked Oliver about the woman’s account of the 1985 incident, saying, “Do you believe this stuff that you read?” “I believe what she wrote, yes,” Oliver responded. “Because there’s no point in her lying.” “Well, there is a point in her not bringing this up for 40 years,” Hoffman said of the 32-year-old incident.
The discussion was largely calm and cordial, though one person in the audience yelled at Oliver to “Move on. Let it go,” the Washington Post reported. That person was drowned out by others, including one who said, “Shame on you,” the Post reported. Another said, “Thank you for believing women.”